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Opinions Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

The right to private property, beach access or not
By Rick Lowe
Mar 13, 2016 - 11:24:24 AM

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The recent spat about beach access by vendors on Paradise Island is an all to important reminder of the right to private property.

In my view, the Opposition parties, the FNM and DNA, were wrong to encourage a protest at the sight where the beneficial owner had their fenced in, which then incited the crowd to pull the fence down that blocked an access point point to Cabbage Beach.

Understanding the vendors frustration as they have been allowed to ply their wares there, apparently uninvited, and more than likely unlicensed, for several years now, they began to feel like it was their right to do so. A dangerous precedent to begin with.

The people that damaged the fence were correctly charged before the courts and their trial is pending.

Now to add insult to injury, Dr. Hubert Minnis, leader of the FNM, has stated if his party wins the next election they will “expunge the records of the accused men if necessary,” something he would not even have the power to do.

Maybe there is a way to voluntarily work something out with the property owner, but that is between the two parties (owner and vendors). But using force the way the vendors did, is not only controversial, it is against the law. In this case a reasonable law, one’s right to private, legally acquired property.

Dr. Minnis, is setting a dangerous precedent for his party and the country.

One can argue that The Bahamas made a mistake over the past 40 to 50 years of selling beach access to property owners, preventing access by Bahamians, but this lack of foresight is not corrected using brute strength and government force.

If Dr. Minnis concern is truly finding ways to allow beach access for Bahamians “it may be in everyone’s best interest to consider ways to purchase back some of the beaches on New Providence (and the islands) at a fair market value and develop parks all over the island. However, this should be with voluntary donations…not by increasing our National Debt.”

It will be another sad day when owners are coerced off their legally acquired private property by protesters and the government.

Where Dr. Minnis has a point is his allegations of Police brutality. But when protesters block the general public's access to the roadways in a private dispute, this cannot be allowed to stand. Pursue an investigation into the actions of the Police by all means, but this is a different argument than a private property owner fencing their legally acquired property off from use by the general public.

Your in Liberty,
Rick Lowe

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